Vietnam verifying East Sea deployment of Chinese deepwater oil rig

By Viet Anh   October 3, 2019 | 03:02 am PT
Vietnam verifying East Sea deployment of Chinese deepwater oil rig
China's Haiyang Shiyou 982 oil rig on a trial run in the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea, in 2019. Photo acquired by VnExpress.
Vietnam is in the process of verifying reports that a Chinese deepwater oil rig has been deployed in the East Sea.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said this at a press meet Thursday, commenting on a September 25 announcement by the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China that the Haiyang Shiyou 982 has been deployed in the South China Sea. The announcement did not mention any specific location.

The South China Sea is known in Vietnam as the East Sea.

Unconfirmed reports have said that the Haiyang Shiyou 982 has been operating since September 21 in a sea area that is 3,000 m deep.

"Vietnam considers that all activities on the East Sea must abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), including respecting the sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction rights of coastal nations, as well as making practical contributions to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region," Hang said.

The latest announcement about the presence of a Chinese deepwater oil rig follows reports that Chinese oil survey vessel Haiyang Dizhi 8 and escorts continue to expand operations in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.

Vietnam has said that this action seriously violates Vietnam’s sovereignty rights and jurisdiction rights in accordance with the UNCLOS, of which both Vietnam and China are members.

Vietnam is resolutely opposed to such activities and has conveyed this to China many times, asking that the vessel and escorts are immediately withdrawn from Vietnamese waters and that similar actions are not repeated in the future, Hang stressed.

"Vietnam resolutely protects its sovereignty and legal rights on the East Sea through methods allowed by international law," she added.

Vietnam has also affirmed that the Vanguard Bank belongs to Vietnam and there is no dispute over this ownership, Hang said.

The Vanguard Bank is a coral reef at the south of the East Sea, about 160 nautical miles to the beach of Vietnam’s Vung Tau and about 600 nautical miles from China’s Hainan Island.

"Vietnam affirms that the area which China calls the Wanan Beach lies completely within Vietnam’s EEZ and continental shelf in accordance with the UNCLOS," she said. "There is absolutely no dispute or overlapping." 

Hang was rejecting a previous statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, who said that the Vanguard Bank belonged to China and requested that Vietnam stops extracting oil and gas from the area.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, including waters close to Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

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